Face retail mark-ups - MoneySense

Face retail mark-ups

Do you know the mark-up on your favourite items? There’s a good chance it’s costing you your savings.


I know businesses exist to make money. If they aren’t raking in the dough, they’re not going to be around very long. Whoosh! There go earnings, employment and the economy.

It’s all very well and good to say we have a consumer-based economy, but when consumption is getting in the way of a strong personal economy it’s time to stop and take stock of just how much it’s costing you.

Let’s take coffee as an example. Ever since David Bach wrote about “the latte factor” coffee has been taking a hit, at least in writing, for being a money-waster. Hey, if you want a caffeine fix, you might be laying out way more than necessary to get your rush. Do you know that lattes are marked up by 300% or more? Are you okay dropping that much profit into your speciality coffee store’s pocket?

Designer denim is another category with outrageous mark-ups. Dropping hundreds of dollars to have some designer’s name on your backside is insane. According to The Wall Street Journal, a pair of True Religion best-selling jeans cost about $50 to make, wholesale for three times as much, and cost about $335 at retail. That’s a more than 600% mark-up.

Everything from mattresses to university textbooks comes with home mark-ups.  My daughter Alex sent me Facebook message telling me that when she bought her textbooks used at Amazon, they were 1/5 the cost, with priority shipping.

As consumers it’s our job to be vigilant about where we are spending our money and how much value we’re getting. Sure, you might want the ease and convenience of pre-cut veggies to make lunch and dinner prep easier, but are you really willing to pay 40% more for that convenience?

Is a $60 department store lipstick really six times better than the $10 lipstick you can get at the drug store? If the answer is, “yes” and you can afford it, by all means, knock yourself out.  But if you’re paying six times as much just for a name, and you’re not saving for the future, then those super mark-ups are costing you more than you can afford. It’s time to stop putting the wider economy before your personal financial well-being.